Sunday, September 16, 2012

On 9-23-12, Hebrews 12:18-29 will be our Adult Sunday School/Uniform Series/International Sunday School Lesson, herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as Faith Inspires Gratitude.

As with last week I am posting a bit early for the next week due to access to the Internet so be sure you notice that this is the commentary for 9-23.  The commentary for 9-16 can be found immediately following this one or on the right side.

Faith Inspires Gratitude
Hebrews 12:18-29
International Sunday School Lesson
September 23, 2012

Jed Greenough

Are you among those who have been guilty of bringing God down to a place or to an image that He doesn’t belong?  Have you been guilty of debating matters in church where you say something like, “My God wouldn’t do that, my God is a loving God.”?  If you haven’t I bet you have heard comments like that.
I don’t want to hurt your feelings but our God is exactly like He is described in today’s scripture.  He is mighty and all powerful and unchanging so do not misread today’s scripture and think that He did change.
Today’s scripture talks of a mountain burning with fire, of darkness, storm, and gloom; of a voice that when it spoke was most unbearable to hear.  Go back and read Exodus 19 and 20 and Deuteronomy 4 and 5 and you will see how God manifested Himself in a created place.  By doing so God was able to give the people of Israel something palpable that they might fear Him, and because this is the beginning of wisdom, have them do as He was about to command them.
As we read here and elsewhere He put limits around the mountain and in how the people should approach Him through priests.  Does this sound like a God who wanted to be brought down to something you have created?
Don’t get me wrong this doesn’t make Him an unloving God.  No, clearly as we consider His plan as it is unveiled we see in fact how great His love is and how grateful we should be if we have faith.
This same unchanging God who once shook a created mountain, will as we read in today’s scripture one day soon, I think, shake everything that He has created.  Then we will be at the heavenly Mt. Zion, the heavenly city.
When God shook the mountain then the people of Israel should have been grateful to God and one day He will shake everything else that He has created.  And as Paul says in today’s scripture, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.
Did you see those last words, “a consuming fire”?  God is, as He says Himself in Malachi 3, unchanging.  He is still that same awesome God who we should be grateful to and worship reverently.  And as it also says with regard to that fire in Malachi 3 and what Paul is telling His readers He is a refiner, a purifier, and why our faith as our title says should inspire gratitude.
If God did not inspire fear and show the people with what high regard He was to be held He knew that people would never do what He commanded them.  Likewise if we today bring Him down from that reverent position we will slowly cease to have a faith that inspires gratitude.

For Discussion:

1.     Discuss today’s scripture verse by verse.
2.     I think that 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 is good companion scripture for today’s.
3.     Discuss how stark the contrast will be between the Jerusalem of this world and the heavenly one to come.
4.     Go back to Exodus and look at Exodus 24 where the people were sprinkled at the onset of the new covenant when considering today’s verse 24.
5.     Discuss what you think it means to worship God with reverence and awe and things that we might be doing that don’t meet that.
6.     Today’s scripture is a reminder to Christians.  Discuss how once reminded we should be moved to more earnestly be about our work of sharing the gospel for the sake of the unsaved, “for our God is a consuming fire.”

Upcoming Adult Sunday School Class Commentaries

9-30-12:  Faith Instills Love aka Faith Requires Mutual Love Hebrews 13:1-3, 6; 1 Corinthians 13 or Hebrews 13:1-3; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
10-7-12:  Stephen Defends His Faith aka Stephen’s Arrest and Speech Acts 6:8-7:2a, 22, 44a, 45b-49 or Acts 6:8-7:2a
10-14-12: Stephen is Faithful to Death aka Stephen’s Martyrdom Acts 7:51-8:1
10-21-12: Simon Wants to Buy Power Acts 8:9-25 or Acts 8:9-24

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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